Mayor's Update #12: Blanco’s Water is Safe to Drink
The City of Blanco recently posted a Public Notice on the quality of its drinking water. Specifically, it noticed a Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) Violation we received from the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). As several citizens have raised questions about the Notice, I and Ronnie Rodriguez, Public Works Director, thought it would be wise to advise the citizens of Blanco concerning the safety of the water (it is safe to drink the water), the cause of the problem, and how it has been solved for the time being.
First and foremost, be assured that the City’s water is safe to drink. The Public Notice states ”you do not have to use an alternative water supply. However, if you have health concerns you may want to consult your doctor.“ Had the water been dangerous to drink, the City would have immediately notified you of that fact and shut down the water system.
So what triggered the TCEQ Notice? It was all about Trihalomethanes, or TTHM, that are formed as a result of a chemical reaction between chlorine, that is added to treat the water, and the organic matter that exists in the water being treated. When the City finds levels of organic material in the water that exceed certain parameters, the City increases the amount of the chlorine it uses to treat the water in order to keep the water safe to drink. The increase in organic material and the chlorine to treat it results in more TTHMs. If the resulting TTHMs exceed TCEQ guidelines, a Public Notice is generated.
So why was there more organic material in the water that needed more chlorine? Due to the flood of the City’s water plant last May, the City has had purchase treated water from the Canyon Lake Water Supply Company (CLWSC). CLWSC, which treats the water it sells to Blanco, experienced problems with its blower system that that was designed to bring organic material levels down to such a level that the increased use of chlorine would not be necessary. However, due to the problems with CLWSC’s blower system, the amount of organic material in the Canyon Lake water we were buying increased to such a level that it was necessary to increase the level of chlorine used to treat the water. This increase in organic material and chlorine resulted in the increased level of TTHM and, hence, the violation notice.
There is good news. CLWSC has repaired its blower system so any water we purchase from them should not need the level of chlorine that triggered the TCEQ violation notice. Even that has been overcome by events in that the City is now drawing its own water from the Blanco River. Therefore, it is unlikely that the City will have a TTHM issue in the next reporting period. Additional steps are being taken every day to ensure the quality and safety of Blanco's drinking water.
The larger issue, of course, is the need to massively refurbish or replace Blanco’s water plant. This will be an expensive proposition and may require a bond election to finance it. Believing that there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our citizens, the City is working to develop a proposal that will provide the best quality drinking water at an affordable price for both the short and long terms.